Friday, 3 April 2020

Friday Five - Pixar

Friday Five

My five favourite Pixar movies...

#5. Brave

2012 - a Disney princess with a difference!


#4. Coco



#3. Up

2009. Even though it made me cry like a baby.


#2. Finding Dory


Finding Dory

#1. Toy Story

All of them - because how am I supposed to choose just one??

Toy Story

Do you have a favourite Pixar movie? Let me know in the comments! :)

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Friday Five

Thursday, 2 April 2020

British Political and Constitutional History, 1050 - 1509

I've been going through some old folders to see what I even had in them. Turns out some old university notes and essays. Plus a prelim paper for Historical Tripos Part I (2008). I figured it might be interesting to see some past exam questions, so I'll link this up to my university essay masterlist.

Reading through the questions, I have no idea which ones I attempted to answer. Probably the one on the Magna Carta. Maybe the question on Edward II - he was my favourite. Who knows? It was just too long ago!

University of Cambridge


Tuesday 22 April 2008           1.30 to 4.30

Paper 3


Answer three questions.

20 Page Answer Book x 1
Rough Work Pad

You may not start to read the questions printed on the subsequent pages of this question paper until instructed that you may do so by the Invigilator

1   What had the Norman Conquest changed by 1087?

2   What role did Normandy play in the politics of the reigns of William II and Henry I?

3   In portraying Stephen's reign as a period of 'anarchy', have historians been imposing an anachronistic notion of state power?

4   How original were the legal reforms of Henry II?

5   What was at issue between John and the papacy?

6   Account for the changing role of Magna Carta between 1215 and 1272.

7   Either (a) Why did Edward I legislate?

     Or (b) Were the tensions of Edward I's reign merely quarrels over money?

8   Can we reconcile the portrayal of Edward II's reign as both a time of lack of royal interest in government and as a period of expansion in the powers of the monarchial 'state'?

9   How useful is the opposition between 'war state' and 'law state' in understanding Edward III's reign?

10   Account for the changing significance of the royal household between 1258 and 1376.

11   'A misfit in his own class.' [V.H. GALBRAITH] How far were Richard II's troubles a consequence of his dissent from contemporary ideals of noble male behaviour?

12   Either (a) Was Scotland a more dangerous enemy for England than France during the Hundred Years War?

    Or (b) What was the contribution of either Ireland or Wales to English politics between 1200 and 1400?

13   Either (a) Why did things get better for Henry IV after 1406?

    Or (b) How much did the successes of Henry V's reign owe to the lessons of his father's failures?

14   Is it more helpful to regard Glyn Dwr's [sic] revolt as a political or social rebellion?

15   Why did the secular political authorities begin to intervene in the prosecution of heresy?

16   How, if at all, did the power of English queens change between either 1066 and 1272 or 1215 and 1483?

17   How convincing is the portrayal of the first twenty years of Henry VI's reign as a period of calm and consensus?

18   What does a comparison of the Peasants' Revolt (1381) with Jack Cade's rebellion (1450) tell us about the changing nature of the political public in late medieval England?

19   What can an analysis of local politics tell us about the roots of the Wars of the Roses?

20   How can we reconcile Edward IV's political miscalculations with evidence of his administrative inventiveness?

21   How accurate would it be to portray the fall of Richard III as a Lancastrian restoration?

22   What, if anything, was 'new' about the monarchy of Henry VII?


University Essays

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Hits of 1978

What I'm Listening To

My mum's year suggestion was 1978, so here are my top ten favourite tracks of the year...

(Don't Fear) The Reaper - Blue Öyster Cult

Amazing track which peaked at #16 on the UK singles chart.

Top of the Pops - The Rezillos

#17 hit for The Rezillos and one of my favourite early new wave tracks.

Cold As Ice - Foreigner

After taking the US by storm in 1977 the song peaked at #24 in the UK a year later.

Gordon is a Moron - Jilted John

I can never resist a good novelty song. This one went to #4 and continues to haunt Gordon's everywhere, as well as inspiring Julie and Gordon to release their own rebuttal.

You're The One That I Want - John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John

It spent nine weeks at #1 in the summer of 1978 - despite the fact the film wasn't released in the UK until the middle of September.

You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) - Sylvester

Unlike most of the tracks on this list, You Make Me Feel had real international appeal - it was a hit in the US, Australia, and most of western Europe.

Wuthering Heights - Kate Bush

Originally slated for a November 1977 release, Kate Bush wasn't happy with the sleeve for her debut single and - though a few copies slipped through - the launch was pushed back to January 1978. It didn't do the track any harm; Wuthering Heights spent four weeks at #1 in the UK, in addition to reaching the top ten in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.

Ever Fallen In Love - The Buzzcocks

One of my favourite songs ever, this one peaked at #12 on the UK singles charts as well as making #14 in Ireland.

I Lost My Heart To a Starship Trooper - Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip

As a self confessed geek I can't help but love a song with lines like: "Fighting for the Federation, hand in hand we'll conquer space!" - City Boy

I always thought City Boy were American, but they were actually home grown. peaked at #8 in the UK and #28 in the USA, making it their best performing single.

What was your favourite hit of 1978? Let me know in the comments. :)

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What I'm Listening To

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Snowdonia Chronicles - Sarah Mussi

Snowdonia Chronicles

The Snowdonia Chronicles is a three part fantasy adventure story aimed at readers aged 12+ and written by multi-award winning children's author, Sarah Mussi. I was sent all three books by Vertebrate Publishing and, given the crazy times in which we're living, I was super grateful to be able to lose myself in them this afternoon!

Initial Thoughts: This is a thoroughly modern YA romance that just happens to be set against a backdrop of ancient Welsh mythology. As I was reading I kept thinking it would be a great way to introduce the Mabinogion and general Welsh folklore to readers who might not otherwise be interested.

We follow the story through first person POV, via main character Ellie, along with clever use of text messages and status updates. The story is easy to follow, even with the fantasy elements and interwoven Welsh language, and the characters are all well drawn enough for you to become quickly invested in their destinies.

Now on to the book by book reaction...

Snowdonia Chronicles Book 1 and 2

Here Be Dragons

Ellie Morgan wants to find love - just not with George, the nice but not in that way boy next door. When Christmas Day sees her out as a rescue volunteer on Snowdon, the one thing she really isn't expecting to come face to face with the boy of her dreams... But, up on the magic mountains of Snowdonia, the path of true love is never going to run that smoothly. [2015, 428 pages]

My verdict: 5/5. This one was my favourite of the three, probably because I really enjoyed getting to know the characters and the slow unravelling of the mysteries. I was impressed with how well Mussi wove the modern setting and the age old fantasy elements together too. The Kindle edition of Here Be Dragons is free right now on Amazon, so you have literally nothing to lose by checking it out. :)

Snowdonia Chronicles Ellie

Here Be Witches

Rhiannon has been Ellie's bestie since forever but when she turns traitor Ellie struggles to make sense of it - is Rhi really a snake or are there more sinister forces at work? [2017, 416 pages]

My verdict: 4/5. I felt like this book embraced the fantasy tropes much more openly than the first book, but the 'Knockers' (Bwca) ended up being one of my favourite things about Here Be Witches so I'm not complaining. It even inspired me to get my sketchbook out which is a pretty rare event these days!

Here Be Wizards

With wildfires raging across Snowdon Ellie and her friends face their greatest challenge yet. Can they save Wales before time runs out? [2020, 450 pages]

My verdict: 3.5/5. There are some parts of this books I really like; the beginning was especially well done and I loved the subtle linking of Changeling children with the modern BEK (Black Eyed Kids) phenomena. Merlin was another stand-out part of this book for me - I kept picturing him as a kind of cross between Disney's Sword in the Stone Merlin and Austin Powers! The lower rating is because I'm not a big fan of the ending. I don't want to go into detail for risk of spoilering, and other readers may well find it really satisfying, but it had a few elements that sat uneasily with me.

Even with that said, overall I enjoyed the trilogy and feel all fired up to go reading up on some of the folklore it touches upon. You can get the entire Snowdonia Chronicles trilogy from Vertebrate Publishing, including postage, for just £12. That's less than £1 per 100 pages!

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Reviews from Babi a Fi - food, fashion, beauty, baby, toys, books, tech, days out, and more!

Monday, 30 March 2020


AZIAM Yoga Girlz Dolls

AZ I AM Girlz is a girls yoga brand which supplements teaching with a wide variety of products designed to promote positive self-awareness. This includes a range of seven 12 inch dolls with enough articulation to actually carry out those yoga poses! They are made from recycled plastic, with rooted hair and screened faces.

You can purchase the dolls online via, with prices starting from $17.95.

The Toy Box Philosopher did an a really detailed review of Alanna. Just check out all that glorious articulation!

AZIAM Girlz Toybox PhilosopherToybox Philosopher AZIAM Girlz Review

AZIAM Asana Yoga GirlAZIAM Dara Singer Dancer

★ Asana Yoga Girl - box front / contents / box back.
★ Dara Singer Dancer - box front / contents / box back.

AZIAM Niyama Nature GirlAZIAM Pratya Zen Girl

★ Niyama Nature Girl - box front / contents / box back.
★ Pratya Zen Girl - box front / contents / box back.

AZIAM Sama the Healthy ChefAZIAM Yama Surfer Girl

★ Sama the Healthy Chef - box front / contents / box back.
★ Yama Surfer Girl - box front / contents / box back.

AZIAM Girlz Prana DollAZIAM Dyana

These two are no longer listed on the website so are presumably discontinued:

★  Prana - box front / box back.
★  Dyana - box front / box back.

AZIAM The Dolly Alanna

AZIAM also have a Soul Model line which currently consists of a single doll.

★ The Dolly Alanna - box front / contents / box back.

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Sunday, 29 March 2020

This Week - 29/03/2020

Don't Exist - Live

What a week! Last Friday it was perfectly safe (allegedly) to send your child to school - today the country's on lockdown.

Marianna and I self-isolated for the week because I felt like I was coming down with a cold. Turns out it was just a cold as I've not developed a cough or had a high temperature. (I've scarcely managed to break 36°C.) On Saturday we went out for a walk for the first time and dropped off a pot Marianna had made for my mum and dad. We returned weighed down with enough chocolate to sink a ship after M complained I had refused to stockpile for her sweet tooth...

The worst part of the week - worse than feeling utterly useless as other councillors deliver food and stuff, and worse than trying to dream up ways to fill hours of home schooling - has definitely been seeing Marianna scared and upset. She keeps asking who she'll live with if we die, and whether or not it will hurt to die from coronavirus. :( We did clapping for the NHS from her bedroom even because she was freaking out we'd die if we went out on the doorstep, complete with the likely timescale.

We watched the Operation Ouch Q&A a few times but by Friday I decided we'd just avoid the news and live TV so she doesn't see it. I mean, I don't want to simply pretend it's not happening, but at five there's only so much of it she can understand and she's absorbing everything she hears about it like a sponge.

In other news I started a new Kindle Unlimited subscription for a distraction. I've got a bunch of UFO books and some true crime lined up ready to read this week. Anthony's been applying for jobs with all the supermarkets as most are taking on at the moment, so fingers crossed on that score. Despite Natwest so very kindly - heh - charging just 19.89% APR on overdrafts until June it's still an absolute imperative to get out of it ASAP.

Deal of the Week -

15% off at poundtoy with referral link / code

On the blog I wrote a guide to Kerusso's God's Girlz dolls as well as posts about Marianna's Sindy Surprise House, and my five favourite fashion trends.

I've also been updating a rundown of Torfaen's temporary services every day and put together a list of 50 free Welsh language resources.

Song of the Week -

Games Without Frontiers - Peter Gabriel

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This Week - Weekly Overviews

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Home School Timetable

Home School Timetable

Previously I'd only ever spent about 30 seconds considering home schooling before deciding, actually, I'm more than happy to delegate that responsibility to the education system. Now the choice has been taken away and we're trying to adjust to the new regime.

9:30 - 10:00 am, Dancing

Marianna gets to pick some songs for us to dance to. I get to dance and sort out the washing.

10:00 - 10:30 am, Welsh

We're doing 30 XP points a day on Duolingo and then watching a cartoon or two in Welsh. (I've got a post listing 50 Free Welsh Language Resources if you're looking for inspiration.)

10:30 - 11:15 am, School Work

AKA the tasks sent home from Marianna's class teacher. Alternates between maths, literacy, and other subjects.

11:15 - 11:45 am, Snack Time

11:45 am - 1:00 pm, Home Project

Typically a video explainer, some vocab, drawing a picture or two, and then doing a craft or carrying out an experiment. Next week we've got making a lip balm, growing a crystal, sand art, a drawing competition, and making our own volcano!

1:00 - 2:00 pm, Lunch / Free Time

AKA Marianna gets to be reunited with her beloved tablet...

2:00 - 2:30 pm, Trampoline

2:30 - 3:00pm, Reading with Daddy

3:00 - 3:45 pm, Games / Singing / Crafts

How is your homeschool timetable looking?

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